When most of us see insects eating away at our plants, the first instinct is to reach for a bottle of insecticide and spray away. With the organics movement on the rise, many gardeners (myself included) have begun to ask ourselves how to cut back on the chemicals and find alternatives methods for dealing with the inevitable pest problem. So far these are some of my most successful methods.
- Aphids can be killed by mixing a equal parts antiseptic mouthwash and water.
- Prefer an all natural route? Brew a strong tea using the peels from either oranges or lemons. Let the mixture cool and spray it on the plants. Don't forget to spray the underside of the leaves. This won't harm the plants but will burn the aphids
-Having trouble with powdery mildew? Mix a couple drops of Dawn dish soap (the blue kind) into a spray bottle. Shake and apply to entire plant. If the affected plant is in a pot, consider mixing the soapy water in a 5 gallon bucket then dipping the entire plant into it.
-If ants are getting into your humming bird feeder you can coat the chain or post in petroleum jelly. The ants won't even try to travel across it.
-If you struggle with slugs, sprinkle crushed eggshells, crab shells or even sea shells around the base of whatever is being eaten. Slugs won't travel across the sharp surfaces. This may look a little gross but once the slugs are gone, mix the shells in with the soil. The calcium is good for many types of plants, especially tomatoes.
As a gardener and nature enthusiast, I find that there are few joys like seeing a herd of deer from my back porch. Yet I am surprised by how quickly that joy turns to horror when I walk outside to find the plants I have been tending eaten down to the nub! In truth there is no way to really keep the deer out short of a tall fence but there are ways to compromise. I believe that the best way is through deer conscious planting; there are several ways in which to do this. The simplest is by choosing plants that deer simply don't like. This way you can have a beautiful worry free garden and still enjoy the presence of our hoofed friends in it.
I have listed below some of my recommendations for deer resistant plants
Astilbe-Perennial: Add a splash of color to your shade garden. Astilbe produces fluffy flowering plumes above dark foliage
Bee Balm- Perennial: One of my favorites, it comes in a wide variety of colors and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
Bigroot Geranium- Perennial: Flowering non invasive groundcover that thrives even with little care.
Catmint -Perennial: Low and fast growing, it produces blue-lavender flowers and grey green foliage. Looks great with just about anything!
Foxglove- Biannual: Very poisonous. Tall cream, pink or purple flowers in early spring. Will reseed itself.
Phlox (Creeping)- Perennial: A thick groundcover with masses of flowers in spring and early summer. Great for walls or rock gardens.
Siberian Iris- Perennial: Produces a large purple flower. It's great for borders and fence lines.
Lupine- Perennial: Flowers in early spring and is a favorite of "cottage" gardeners.
Lungwort - Perennial : Lung gorgeous spring bloomer has variegated foliage with coarse hairs
Meadow Rue- Perennial: Great in the shade. Has delicate, fluffy flowers that seem to float above the plant.
Sweet Woodruff- Perennial: Charming shady groundcover with small, lightly scented flowers in early summer.
Wiegela My Monet- Perennial: This compact shrub has variegated leaves with bright pink flowers.
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